- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 11, 2007

Celebrity death

“You would think that Mother Teresa had just died all over again the way the media — especially television — is covering every nuance of the life and death of Anna Nicole Smith. …

“The world is being devastated by crisis, war and the deaths of noble, courageous people. Yet seldom are their names even mentioned in the news. They have become mere statistics. However, this former stripper’s death has already been given more coverage than the death of former President Gerald Ford.”

— John Whitehead, writing on “Anna Nicole: How Television Fails the American Public,” Friday for the Rutherford Institute at www.rutherford.org

Stalin’s science

“As the 20th century recedes, it becomes increasingly difficult to explain to younger generations the peculiar combination of idealism, naivete, cynicism and brutality that was the hallmark of that century’s totalitarian states. …

“While savage dictatorships in Nazi Germany and China played at the edges of harnessing science and its theories for the advancement of their ideological dogmas, nowhere was the attempt more comprehensive than in the Soviet Union. …

“Stalin desperately wanted to put the fruits of scientific discovery and technological progress in service of the ‘first socialist country in the world,’ and the role of scientists and engineers in that process was well understood by the regime. Communist ideology demanded that there be no contradictions between the laws of nature and the teachings of Marxist philosophy. … Only Stalin, ‘the greatest philosopher ever,’ would be the final judge.”

— Susan Eisenhower, writing on “Scientist in Chief,” Friday in the Moscow Times

Franklin’s science

“Journalist, scientist, diplomat and vendor of the virtues, [Benjamin] Franklin stands in our imagination as the iconic ‘First American,’ the self-made man and proud inventor of the future. His scientific achievements were indeed interesting and impressive — especially his research on electricity and his invention of the lightning rod.

“But equally interesting, and far more complicated, was Franklin’s idea of science. He was, you might say, our first home-grown Baconian — seeing scientific ingenuity as the greatest delight and truest redeemer of human life. …

“Yet it would be a mistake to treat Franklin as a simple or straightforward partisan of the humanistic side of the modern divide. … Franklin, it turns out, can be found consorting with both the rationalists who believe that human beings can live perfectly well according to reason alone and the believers who think life impossible without the miraculous experience of conscience and the revealed word of God.”

— Jerry Weinberger, writing on “The Scientific Mind of Ben Franklin,” in the winter issue of the New Atlantis

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